It may have seemed like a distant-reality not long ago, but an autonomous shuttle service will transport passengers around Metro Vancouver this February.
Powered by electricity, the self-driving vehicle is marketed as the 'future of transportation,' and is the first Electric Autonomous Shuttle Experience open to the public in Canada.
ELA - short for ELectronic Automation - is manufactured by EasyMile, a leading autonomous manufacturer that has deployed driverless shuttles in over 20 countries across Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East, North America, and Europe. The shuttles use a combination of sensors, video cameras, and computers to understand their surroundings.
The shuttles are being considered for large-scale use in the Lower Mainland, as they foster a greener alternative to current methods of transit. In addition, they are considered safer, as they eliminate human error which often leads to collisions.
"Autonomous shuttles are one of the main components of the City of Surrey and the City of Vancouver’s Smart Cities Challenge bid to create Canada’s first two collision-free multimodal corridors using smart mobility technologies," reads the City of Vancouver and City of Surrey event.
Now, residents of the Lower Mainland will be able to experience the technology firsthand in either Surrey or Vancouver.
The shuttles maintain their battery power for up to 14 hours, and hold speeds of up to 40 km per hour. With that being said, the maximum speed for a demonstration ride is 12 km per hour. Further, each shuttle holds a maximum of 12 people per ride.
The shuttle will be separated from traffic to ensure public safety, and a trained operator will be on board.
The Surrey demonstration takes roughly five minutes to complete, while the Vancouver demonstration takes about fifteen.
When: February 1 to 4, 6, 9 to 10, and 13-17 from 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Surrey Civic Plaza at 13450 104 Ave
When: February 23 – March 3 from 12 pm to 6pm weekdays and 10am to 5pm weekends
Where: West 1st Avenue – the shuttle will operate in the westbound lane (north of the existing median)
Pick-up locations: Olympic Village Train Station Parking lot and Manitoba and West 1st Avenue, North West Corner